White Supremacist Allegedly Kills Three People Outside Jewish Community Centers In Kansas City Area
Three people were killed when a gunman opened fire outside two Jewish Community centers near Kansas City Sunday, April 13, in what is believed to have been a hate crime.
Three Dead From Shootings
Reat Griffin Underwood, 14, was shot and killed in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City. He was in the car with his grandfather, William Lewis Corporon, who also died as a result of his injuries. Underwood, who was not Jewish himself, was there to audition for “KC Superstar,” a singing competition for Kansas City area high school students. His grandfather, a doctor, had recently moved to Kansas City to be closer to his grandchildren.
Underwood’s mother and Corporon’s daughter, Mindy Corporon, spoke at a vigil for the victims of the shootings, hosted by the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, the church the family belongs to.
“I was there before the police and I was there before the ambulance. And I knew immediately that they were in heaven together, and I know that they’re in heaven together,” Corporon said.
The third victim, Terri LaManno, was shot while visiting her mother at Village Shalom. LaManno was an occupational therapist that worked for the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City, a wife and a mother.
“My mom was a beautiful soul, she always thought of everyone before herself. The world needs more people like her. She was a warm, loving and beautiful person. She was the best mother, wife, sister and friend that anyone could ask for. She lived for God and the people she loved,” the family said in a statement.
Suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross, In Custody
The alleged shooter, Frazier Glenn Cross, 73, has been arrested, and he will probably face federal charges for a hate crime.
“We’re investigating it as a hate crime, we’re investigating it as a criminal act, we haven’t ruled out anything,” said Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass.
While allegations of a hate crime are still being investigated, Kansas U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said that he is confident Cross will be charged with a hate crime.
“We are in a very good place from an evidence standpoint and will present the case to a grand jury in the not-too-distant future,” Grissom said at a press conference.
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) April 13, 2014
Frazier Glenn Cross: A History Of Anti-Semitism
Cross has a history of anti-Semitism and ties to white supremacy groups. Cross was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan, heading up the Carolina Knights before founding the White Patriot Party in the 1980s. Cross was being monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, and was arrested in 1986, though he ran from his sentence. During his time fleeing the authorities, Cross reportedly sent out a point system for killing groups he found undesirable: Black people were worth 1 point, “White race traitors” and Jews worth 10 each, judges were 50 and the SPLC founder was worth 888 points.
Cross was eventually caught by the FBI surrounded by illegal weapons and served three years in prison for his crimes after making a deal with federal prosecutors. Cross served a lighter sentence in exchange for his testimony against 14 white supremacists.
Following his time in prison, Cross was no longer welcome in the white supremacist community, but Cross continued to thrive in hateful communities. He published two issues of an anti-Semitic magazine called ‘The Aryan Alternative’ in 2005 and has been an active participant on the anti-Semitic website, the Vanguard News Network.
Frazier Glenn Cross Could Be Charged With A Hate Crime
Given Cross’ anti-Semitic past, many are already treating his shootings as a hate crime, and reports have emerged claiming that Cross yelled out “Heil Hitler” before opening fire. Cross also reportedly asked people outside the community centers whether or not they were Jewish before he began shooting.
Adding to the hate crime allegations is the timing of the shooting, which occurred just one day before the beginning of Passover, a Jewish holiday. As a result, many have begun taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety of those celebrating Passover across the country. The Los Angeles Police Department has reportedly increased patrols in Jewish community areas and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement on Sunday announcing that the NYPD were also working to make sure the holiday was observed safely and peacefully.
“On behalf of New York City, we’d like to offer condolences as well as our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the tragic incident this afternoon in the greater Kansas City area, as well as their families and the entire Jewish community. The NYPD is taking all steps to ensure the safety and security of Jewish individuals and institutions as Passover is being ushered in,” de Blasio said.
President Barack Obama issued a statement wishing everyone a good Passover and expressing his sadness for Sunday’s events, saying, “As Americans, we will continue to stand united against this kind of terrible violence, which has no place in our society. We will continue to come together across faiths to combat the ignorance and intolerance, including anti-Semitism, that can lead to hatred and violence. And we will never lose faith that compassion and justice will ultimately triumph over hate and fear.”
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong